Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Guild Wars 2’s Flashpoint

I’ve managed to calm myself enough after finishing my Guild Wars 2 Flashpoint initial impressions piece two weeks ago to bring you a much more detailed look at the action-packed episode that is the penultimate instalment in the Living World’s eventful third season. The story contains so many twists and turns that you’ll be dizzy by the end, and in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months and missed all the hype about this content drop, you’ll want to know that Lazarus’ true identity is revealed within Flashpoint.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll unpack the reveals and angles taken by the penultimate episode of Season 3 and will share my most and least favourite aspects of the episode while I’m at it. This article will contain significant spoilers and is not safe to read for those who haven’t completed Flashpoint and have managed to avoid the spoilers so far. You can always bookmark this one to come back to whenever you have managed to find time to enjoy the content for yourself.

Flashpoint: The story so far

Taimi trouble and Lazarus’ identity

You’ll remember from my first impressions coverage that the episode opens with a summons to the Dragon Lab. The commander is greeted by Kasmeer upon arrival at Rata Novus, and the exchange is a little terse since Kas has not yet been asked to be a part of Dragon’s Watch. The commander welcomes her wishes to join and soon the conversation moves onto Marjory and her accompaniment of Lazarus. When the pair reaches Taimi, she has managed to release her dragon minion test subjects, whom the commander and company must subdue. After the initial Taimi-related minor disaster is over, she shows you her most recent invention, the secret weapon in the dragon war that Tyria has been waiting for. Running off the heart of Omadd’s Machine, her device can smash both Primordus’ and Jormag’s unique signatures together in order to cancel them out, effectively making the “dragons go (death sound)”, as Taimi puts it.

Taimi wants the area to be clear for the machine’s first test since her experiments tend to be more than a little bit risky, but Phlunt is hot on her case and refuses to budge, worrying that Taimi will steal the research left behind in the lab by his associates. Of course, Phlunt has no idea what sort of machine she has built and doesn’t detect the urgency in the room, thinking that the device is a giant elixir cooler. The commander is tasked with reasoning with the cantankerous old fool and depending on the dialogue options chosen you will have varying degrees of success. Just before the experiment is to commence, Marjory comes in saying that she didn’t manage to leave the faux Lazarus without his notice, so he is hot on her heels en route to Rata Novus. We learn about his base in the Fire Islands filled with mercenaries before he arrives, and Jory tells us about a mirror he keeps with him, which Kas suspects is an enchanted mirror that he is using to disguise himself. A mirror trap is set for the imposter that will ruin the illusion, and all the while Kas has a major pop at Jory regarding her rogue antics.

Phlunt returns and informs us that the gate is down, suspecting that Taimi’s machine is the cause of the disruption. The commander suggests evacuating the lab, but this means opening the Dragon Lab since it’s the only way out. Phlunt doesn’t believe a word that is said about the imminent arrival of “Lazarus” and is outraged at the existence of the hidden lab until the fake Mursaat himself glides in. Phlunt makes a quick exit and Lazarus chastises the commander for not telling him about the machine. He is pointed toward the creation — and past the point where the mirror beams converge — and a battle of epic proportions ensues while we hope the mirrors cast off the Lazarus disguise. Phlunt arrives with backup as the fake Lazarus is eventually revealed to be none other than Balthazar: Kas is frozen in awe while Jory is seriously wounded by the god, who bids his mercenaries to kill everyone in the lab so he can take Taimi’s machine. We picked a fight with the God of Fire and War, and Kasmeer is so awestricken that she runs out on us, unable to oppose the will of one of the Six.

The Fire Islands: Draconis Mons

The commander takes a submarine out to the Fire Islands, hot on Balthazar’s tail in an attempt to retrieve the dragon-killing machine from the rogue god. We find ourselves in a new zone called Draconis Mons, a thriving yet treacherous area within the Fire Islands that features a huge volcano that gives the zone its name. Draconis Mons is a unique cavern with an amazing biome and exceptionally hot waters that have been heated by volcanic activity, causing a useful obscuring mist to fill the huge cavern. A scientist carrying a tracker for the dragon machine within the initial expedition troop is grabbed by vines and a mysterious wind prompts us upward to locate him. The commander finds the missing scientist, but the tracker was irreparably damaged in the grab and is now useless. Nettleblaze is the Oakheart spirit behind the mysterious voice and he warns us not to stay on the Islands, but when he realises we are trying to remove Balthazar from the locale he lets us know where he went, sending us to the peak of the volcano.

Balthazar has entered the volcanic well and Nettleblaze isn’t very happy about our failure to catch him before he reached the mountain’s apex, but the commander assures the spirit that some resourceful friends could find a way to let mortals enter the volcano’s throat too. Fearing the pollution that more trespassers would bring, the spirit offers its assistance instead, though he warns that his way is dangerous and painful. This is where Draconis Mons becomes much more interesting to me: here in the story, we realise that Zinn has had an influence here and has trapped four ancient spirits in his vaults. The commander sets to work freeing these spirits in order to gain their protection so the lava is penetrable.

The throat of Draconis Mons

Aided by an Asuran Tin-Man of a golem called M.O.X., the commander finds the first of Zinn’s vaults and gains access. Cue some hilarious exchanges with Taimi via communicator when she notices the commander heat-spiking wildly on her readings: Somehow the story of ghost voices and magic doesn’t sway her to believe the commander is alright! Taimi interrupts once more with an urgent interception once all the spirits are freed, showing the commander that her projections show that Balthazar could very well destroy the eternal alchemy, and Taimi also warns us that the machine has no off switch and must be destroyed if it is started by Balthazar. The commander enters the throat of the volcano and stumbles across Taimi and a freshly minted Scruffy 2.0. Feeling guilty about Balthazar being armed with such a destructive invention, she simply had to accompany the commander in its retrieval.

The commander uses a scanner of Taimi’s to assess a volatile energy shield in the centre of the cavernous structure. The pair learns that the shield anomalies can be used against it to destroy it, so the commander gets to work in collecting anomalies to ruin the barrier. The commander plunges deeper and deeper into the volcanic chimney, which turns out to be the sleeping chamber of Primordus! With a great primordial roar and the dropping of all destroyers in the vicinity, we realise that Balthazar has turned on the machine, leaving us with two options: Either let Balthazar destroy the dragons and absorb their magic or destroy the machine and lose the secret weapon that promised to vanquish the dragon threat.

A paralysed Primordus lies in front of a rattled Taimi and the confused commander, and Balthazar’s image floats above the dragon machine. He has somehow fused himself with it to absorb the draconic energies when they are destroyed, and as the pair gear up to destroy the machine, Balthazar speaks. Angry at being overshadowed and not willing to cease his plan, the commander urges him into battle, buying Taimi time to start the overload process. Just as Taimi confirms she is ready to overload her machine, Balthazar strikes her down and boasts about his new-found power. Taimi is not seriously hurt and hits the overload, but the machine doesn’t immediately react. Eventually, the machine put Primordus and supposedly Jormag back to pre-awakening energy levels without destroying either one and we can no longer see Balthazar: We assume he was vaporised in the blast but cannot be sure. We are left to ponder the new relationship the Tyrians will have with the last two remaining dragons, now knowing that their destruction will end Tyria, and we also need to find out if Balthazar really is gone.

What I rated

I applaud Taimi’s bravery in tackling the thief Balthazar and the appearance of Scruffy 2.0, even if he isn’t yet armed and ready to kick some godly butt. I also adore the tension building between Jory and Kas, and I hope the final instalment of the season highlights how torn up Kas must be to have come face to face with one of the Six and have him not be who she thinks he ought to be, especially since he wounded her Jory. I love the twist with the Dragon’s Watch needing to protect and not vanquish the last dragons, not least because I have long since suspected that the final two being killed would ruin the equilibrium. I really cannot wait to run into Braham again and try to convince him that Jormag needs to be placed into an eternal slumber of a different kind; I can’t see him volunteering to since the dragon lullabies! Lastly, I am delighted to see the gods walk among men again.

What I hated

There was nothing that particularly struck me as a hate in this instalment, so I’m absolutely bursting at the seams with excitement for the last episode of the season and the expansion whenever it follows. I’m expecting a very different direction to be taken and it’s too soon to rate or hate on that.

Over to you!

I want to know everything: Did you expect the Lazarus reveal to take the direction it did? Where do you see the story going in the next episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Tina Lauro has been playing Guild Wars 2 since it launched and now pens the long-running Flameseeker Chronicles column, which runs every other Wednesday and covers everything from GW2 guides and news to opinion pieces and dev diary breakdowns. If there’s a GW2 topic you’d love to see covered, drop a comment Tina’s way or mail her at tina@massivelyop.com.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

LEAVE A COMMENT

15 Comments on "Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Guild Wars 2’s Flashpoint"

Subscribe to:
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most liked
Reader
TomTurtle

I’m left curious as to what will happen in the next episode, something for me to be surprised by, even with knowing about the leaked content.

This turn in the story lessens the impact of the Living Story as ArenaNet were able to ramp up the stakes in the story only to pull back from it near the end. It leaves players in much of the same spot as before the season started in regards to making progress on dealing with the Elder Dragons, only now it’s been confirmed that outright killing them alone is a bad idea, something we pretty much suspected for a while now.

In discussing the Balthazar reveal with other players, it made me realize how ignorant I am about the lore of the Human gods. I always looked upon the gods fondly as a benevolent force, but they’re more complicated than that. While I’d like them to be on our side, I’m willing to see where things go, even if only with Balthazar, though I’d love to see more of the Human gods come into play.

What I want to see out of the next episode is to have all the characters of our group get their stories addressed. It doesn’t mean they need to be resolved, but I want to know what’s going on with our attempt to form a new guild and move forward from there.

Reader
vinicitur

Yeah for me season 3 has been all over the place. They need to focus the story a little more than that. Nothing gets resolved. It only gets pushed aside and that is not fun for me.

I would also like to revisit Caithe’s story in HOT. Sorry but I don’t see her apologizing for what she did enough. Especially having seen her kill someone for absolutely no reason in LS2.

As for what’s to come, I can see two options: First, the episode ends with the return of the human gods or We try to convince the Norns to back down and fail miserably leading to a possible war between the nations. Those who want the dragons dead on one side and those who are afraid that will destroy the world on the other. Unfortunately, with how Anet has managed the story so far, I’m afraid they will pull a Deus Ex Machina out of nowhere just to create tension and steer the story in another direction because reasons.

Reader
Bryan Turner

Seems like they are setting the pieces for the expansion arc, Braham and Logan being potential Antagonists since they still want to destroy the Dragons, The Gods presumably going Dragon Hunting to feed off of their power, Aurene becoming the new Crystal Elder Dragon after Kralk dies or perhaps filling the gap between Death and Mind.

Unless ANet drops the bomb again pumps out another light Expansion (which I assume would be the death-knell for the company).

Reader
TomTurtle

The war between nations is as likely to happen as what was hinted pre-HoT with the Sylvari and the rest of the races. It was only slightly touched upon in HoT in comparison to how it should have been handled. A shame too because the trailer showing Canach fending off once fellow allies really made the possible story sound intriguing.

I feel that ArenaNet keeps going back and forth with racial and factional tensions, unable to decide what to do with those overarching plot points. We should all be united but then we’re not but then we are and yet are not and so on. The amount of detail given to these changes is far too little and makes them feel scatterbrained in their execution.

Reader
Leviathonlx

I still wish the B team could be killed off so we could go back to non annoying characters. Or at the very least Kasmeer or Marjory as that storyline has played itself out and they offer nothing else of value.

Reader
McGuffn

“Did you expect the Lazarus reveal to take the direction it did?”

No, it was pretty stupid. Let’s build up the white mantle backstory for months to explain to gw2 players who the mursaat are, then change Lazarus into someone else players are almost as equally unfamiliar with and put in no story whatsoever.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Tobasco da Gama

When the pair reaches Taimi, she has managed to release her dragon minion test subjects, whom the commander and company must subdue.

The running gag isn’t funny any more, it’s just tedious. :/

Reader
McGuffn

But it’s the clearest indication yet that she’s a member of the inquest! Lots of flashbacks to Crucible of Eternity there.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

Quick question, since I got into this chapter shortly after it came out but haven’t really dived in…how much is this zone like the early HoT zones? My immediate reaction was flashbacks to the HoT zones and I think that’s partially why I’ve put GW2 back on my back-burner for a bit while I work on some other projects (right not continuing to slowly tinker around in ESO), but if my first impression of the zone was incorrect, that will very likely bump it right back up to the top.

Reader
Balen Arenas

depends on what you really enjoy. Personally I’ve found this zone to be the best of the LS. I love the verticality and the various areas to explore. Others, like some in the comments below, seem to hate this style of map.

atatahir
Reader
atatahir

This zone is most similar to HOT zone than any other season three zones. As someone who loved HOT zones this is most definitely my favorite zone from season 3, but for someone who did not liked HOT zones this zone might be annoying.

The mobs are similar to what you would find in HOT zones. It is filled with pocket rapters, mushrooms and smokescales in central part of the zone. The smokescales in particular are very prevalent and have caused me to die several times.

There is also at least one step in the story in which people had difficulty in finding how to get to where they needed to go. You will have to use the map’s level feature extensively to see which level you need to go.

There are a few differences though.

First, there is no zone wide Meta event.

Second, while the new mastery makes it significantly faster to navigate the zone, you can easily travel without it also. It will just take longer.

Third, while there are only 3 waypoint their placement is very good and if you die it is much easier to get back

Reader
McGuffn

The zone is basically terrible for playing in. Once you do the story and get the minis you want I wouldn’t go back.

Other than that, the gathering is awful and the events aren’t terrible and are pretty easy to complete (unlike, say, Lake Doric) but in exchange it is harder to get to them before other people complete them.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

Bleh, this is what I was concerned about. Nice that the events aren’t as annoying as Lake Doric (not a big fan of how events unfold in that zone for solo/small group players), but the biggest issue for me has been navigating through the HoT-esque zone design. Loathe it with a passion, and Anet cannot move away from it fast enough.

I was really hoping they’d already moved away and weren’t returning, given the zone design of all the post-HoT zones, but apparently not : (

miol
Reader
miol

But typical almost flat maps are so boring! :(
Finding nooks and crannies and shortcuts feels way less artificial!

Reader
McGuffn

They have environment designers that like overly convoluted messes. The easiest thing to do if you play in the zone though, is probably to go to the highest waypoint and glide/fall down to the floor you want.

wpDiscuz